The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has revealed in a parliamentary question session that it has a backlog of over 56 000 visa applications that are waiting to be processed. According to DHA they are hoping to clear this backlog by June 2024.
The extent of the backlog is absolutely startling. Prior to Covid a visa application never took longer than 12 weeks to be processed. Since the beginning of 2022 most visa applications are taking in excess of 12 months to be processed. How the backlog has grown from zero to over 56 000 applications in the last 2 years is uncertain but can be partly attributed to the following reasons:
DHA have partly dealt with the problem the backlog is causing by issuing a blanket extension to visa applicants. The most recent extension is until the 31st March 2023 which will certainly be extended. However, the blanket extension does not solve the problem for many applicants. It may assist applicants that are applying for a straight renewal of their previous visa, but not for applicants that are applying to work or for a change in conditions of their previous visa. These applicants are left high and dry and hope that their prospective employers will wait in excess of 12 months for their applications to be processed. Never mind the loss of income especially if they have to support a family.
A final word. Whilst DHA hopes to clear the backlog by June 2024 they do not have a good record at achieving their targets so it is likely to take much longer before the backlog is cleared.
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